UTG Students commence farming in Kanilai

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
‘A surprising performance’ - says Kanilai Farm’s coordinator

As the rains approach, and the cropping season begins, Kanilai, the home village of the Gambian leader, is set to resume its festive outlook, when citizens from across the country converge on it, in their own ways of answering to the call of the His Excellency, President Jammeh whose preoccupation it has been to transform this country into a self-reliant one, in terms of food production. The students of the University of the Gambia have, since last year, resolved to join the President in this cause.

In this 2008 planting season, the students, under the auspices of the Students’ Union (UTGSU), were apparently the first to have made it to Kanilai. This first school visit turned out to be quite an exemplary one, much to the delight of the kanilai Farms coordinator.

After a thrilling performance of hard work by the students, Captain Baldeh expressed amazement at the amount of work the they had done, saying that "this is the first time ever for a group to have come to Kanilai during a weekend, cleared down a plot of land for cultivation, presided over its ploughing, before sowing it," all in just a weekend.

That was exactly what members of the Students’ Union of the University of the Gambia did. Having arrived at the village last Thursday, setting for their plot of land allocated to them by the President, since last year, they cleared the plot of an area of about six hectares, sharing a border with one of the favorite hangouts of the president whenever he retires to his home. This year they decided to cultivate millet and sorghum. For people of their kind, being absorbed by the tedious studies you would expect of university students, the UTG students seem defiant, and Capt. Baldeh was certainly not alone in his admiration for them.  

The brains behind the noble projects are Ousman Badjie, the president of the University of the Gambia Students Union, from whom the original idea had in fact emerged, sometime last year, when he was Technical Director of the Students’ Union, and the man the entire students fondly call "farm manager," Famara Badjie (with no close relation with the former).  Famara, a second year student, is a trained agricultural extension worker, who studied at the Gambia College in Brikama.

He has had an excellent record in the field, having co-pioneered and worked on one of the most successful agricultural projects in the country, in the village of Njamboor. He sees the UTGSU farm in Kanilai as a potentially rewarding undertaking. His appeal goes to his colleagues. He urged them to take the farm seriously, saying that the Gambian leader does not have any interest in what "is produced, or what is gotten from such proceeds." The benefit, he reiterated, is for us, the entire populace of the Gambia.

Ousman Badjie made similar sentiments, in reminding his colleagues about the need for upholding a legacy they inherited. He reminded them about what had warranted the establishment of the farm in the first place, calling on them to take it as theirs, and not "HE’s. This was an echo of an earlier statement by Captain Baldeh.

Last season, the university students body cultivated two kinds of crops, with the secondary crop doing better than the primary one whose failure was due to late starting, coupled with the erratic nature of the rains. But this time round, as in the words of the official farm adviser of the student’s farm, Famara Badjie, "Inshaallah, everything will go fine."  With this early, promising starting, and the fact that the students are not taking any chance, this year’s harvest is sure to make up for last year’s losses. It must be emphasized though, that the farmer has a lot to do, but the overall success of the farm depends on environmental factors which are controlled by nature.

Author: by Kemo Cham